Embracing the Sacred Moments

Leah DiPascal

Day: 17 | Plan: Leviticus-Hebrews

Today's Reading: Leviticus 12

Leviticus 12:4b (NIV)“She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.”

It today’s reading of Leviticus 12 we get a glimpse into the lives of the Israelite women and discover what their days may have been like following the extraordinary experience of childbirth. This important time of post-delivery was different based on whether an Israelite woman gave birth to a baby boy or girl.  

If a woman gave birth to a boy, she’d have to wait seven days, have him circumcised on the eighth day and then wait another 33 days to be purified. If a woman gave birth to a baby girl, she’d have to wait 14 days and then another 66 days to be purified. 

Despite the difference in the length of time, one significant detail remained the same. Regardless of whether a woman gave birth to a male or female child, she was considered ceremonially unclean. (Leviticus 12:2, Leviticus 12:5) 

The root word for unclean in the Hebrew text is tä·mā' which means “to become unclean, impure, defiled, polluted.” Why would God consider a woman impure or defiled after giving birth to a baby or during her menstrual cycle? (Leviticus 12:2b; Leviticus 15:19-30) After all, isn’t this the natural way God created a woman’s body to function? 

We find the answer in Leviticus 12:7. It wasn’t the act of childbirth that made an Israelite woman ceremonially unclean. It was the flow of blood and emissions of fluid from her body. In fact, during this time of post-delivery waiting, anything or anyone she touched, including her husband, became unclean. (Leviticus 15:19-30) 

When this lengthy purification process was over, she was required to go to the entrance of the tabernacle and give the priest an animal for a burnt offering and a sin offering. Once the priest made atonement for her before the Lord, she would be considered clean again and could return to her normal activities. 

I’ll be honest, the first time I read these passages in Leviticus 12 I struggled to fully understand why God would have instituted these requirements. I imagined how I would have felt being a new momma with a tiny infant, isolated from others, not allowed to touch certain things, run errands or even go to church with family and friends. 

Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I wonder if God, in His infinite wisdom and love for women, had other plans in mind when giving these instructions.

Could it be that God also intentionally set aside this precious time for an Israelite woman to rest, recover from childbirth and bond with her baby? 

Women during this time period were not respected or considered valuable as they are today. Without this “time of purification” an Israelite woman would most likely have returned to her daily chores and responsibilities right away, leaving no time for her body to mend or her heart to savor and delight in those first few weeks with her newborn baby.  

Only God would care so much and love so deeply to provide these precious days between a mother and her child. To set aside this special time with few interruptions or distractions. To give a mother the sacred space as she cradled her little one, all the while gazing upon the flawless skin of her baby’s delicate face.

Others would consider her unclean, but God would see her as beautiful. Fulfilling the holy assignment of motherhood. Graciously embracing the call He had assigned for her.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and creating me with intentionality. I want to be a beautiful reflection of Your image to others. Teach me Your ways and help me to fully embrace the sacred moments You have assigned to me. I rejoice in knowing I will always be Your child. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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